Baldwin’s Book Barn – West Chester, Pennsylvania
If you listen to episode 5 of the Bookstore Explorer podcast, you’ll hear me blank on the name of one of the coolest old bookshops I’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting: Baldwin’s Book Barn in West Chester, Pennsylvania. This massive, five-story building is an historic property that “exudes bookish charm with its cozy nooks, stone walls, friendly atmosphere, wood-burning stove, and shelf upon shelf of books, maps and prints.”
I made a special stop through West Chester on my summer book tour just to check out Baldwin’s, and it was worth the trip. Nestled in a quaint rural community, the building itself is something to behold. Built in 1822, it became a bookshop when William and Linda Baldwin moved their book and collectible business from nearby Wilmington, Delaware, to the barn in 1946. The couple converted the nearby milking house into their personal residence and the barn into the bookshop and, for several years, a country store museum.
With four of its floors devoted to books, Baldwin’s smartly has maps at the entry that will help visitors navigate the space. The first floor is home to children’s, gardening, military history and more. The second floor has such genres as American history and politics. Up from there to modern literature, mystery, religion and regional works on the third floor. Computers, addiction treatment and books about books are some of what you’ll find on the fourth floor.
According to its website, Baldwin’s is home to 300,000 used and rare books, manuscripts, maps, and fine paintings, prints, estate antiques and other valued collectibles. It’s the kind of shop that is like stepping back through time – a place of wonder where it’s easy to browse slowly from room to room and spend hours lost in the stacks.
Baldwin’s Book Barn is located at 865 Lenape Road, West Chester, Pennsylvania. Open daily.